Second Life

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VATAR - Virtual Avatar Training and Recreation

The Virtual Avatar Training and Recreation programme (VATAR) is a regular opportunity to get together in Second Life and meet others involved in the the Virtual Collaboration Environment. There are regular sessions where you can meet other people from across the community who are involved in Virtual Worlds and discuss what they are doing, ask for hints and tips and learn new skills. You are encouraged to come along, join in and share.

Gain experience with your avatar in fun sessions:

  • Skydiving
  • Scuba Diving
  • Winter Festival
  • Vehicle Trips

And rather more serious tutorials to help you get theost out of attending events in the 3D space:

  • Avatar Appearance
  • Building and Texturing
  • Inventory Management
  • Voice/VoIP

And then, when you feel you are ready, try the VATAR Ultimate Challenge Course.

This programme is based on the Virtual University of Edinburgh's VATAR programme, which you can see described here.

Date Event Type URL Launcher
29-Oct-2009 09:00 EDT Scuba Diving

Open Challenge Ultimate Challenge Teleport



Previous VATAR Events

Date Event Type URL Attendees
24-Sep-2009 09:00 EDT

Skydiving 3 attendees
3-Sep-2009 09:00 EDT Voice 7 attendees
27-Aug-2009 09:00 EDT Scuba Diving

4 attendees
20-Aug-2009 09:00 EDT

Skydiving 4 attendees


Austin Tate's picture

Second Life Orientation

Austin Tate's picture

Second Life Setup and Guidance

A 3D Virtual Collaboration Environment is under development for your community in Second Life.

If you do not already have a Second Life "avatar" please get one first. Some guidance can be found here:

After you have your Second Life avatar, and have completed the initial orientation tour, please visit the OpenVCE collaboration facility at:

VW PlatformLocationURLLauncher
Second Life

OpenVCE 3D Space - I-Zone Round table for up to 25 people


Setup and Test Your System

  • Install Second Life Viewer (you may need to have this done by your computer support staff, or get their permisison to do it)
  • Note that Second Life Viewer updates are usually optional, but usually occur every 3 or 4 months.
  • In some cases related to security issues, a viewer update is mandatory to continue to access Second Life.
  • Network and firewall requirements (to give to your computer support team): [Second Life] [Opensim]
  • For specific network or firewall ssues with Quicktime Video see below.
  • Hardware Test - select test for meeting requirements of "Second Life" to test if your computer, graphics card, network and so on are suitable to run Second Life well.

Problems Receiving Video

Check you can receive Quicktime Streaming Video. Test without the Second Life Viewer. Run Quicktime Player for these tests and open these test URLs with File -> Open URL:

  1. Test simple http media url from Apple:
  2. Check connectivity to AIAI Media Server in HTTP mode on standard port 80:
  3. Check connectivity to AIAI Media Server on port used for real time streaming (554) mode:
  4. Test real time stream mode works (paste this URL into QT Player): rtsp://

This could indicate where any problem lies, or if there are firewall access issues on the HTTP and/or RSTP standard ports. If 1) and 2) work but 3) and 4) do not the issue may be the RTSP port used... see:

General Firewall advice for Quicktime Use:

Checklist Before Meeting

  1. Assuming Second Life, Quicktime media streaming, (possibly voice if it is to be used) and the relevant avatars are all set up. Otherwise see this advice.
  2. Check media streaming is set to automatically play media streams as the avatar walks between plots. Use Edit -> Preferences -> Audio & Video and check audio, media and automatic play options are on.
  3. Set the graphics settings appropriately. Edit -> Preferences -> Graphics. Try relatively High (or Ultra) settings for good looks of the environment and the avatars. Tick the custom box, and adjust the Draw Distance to say 96m for use in meeting spaces. You can try 192m to show scenery though the windows. [Tip: If your system allows for it, try to use a draw distance of 512m if you take screen shots separate to your main activities]
  4. The VCE region has a fixed time tof day to assist new users.  But, for snapshots, a suitable light for the demonstration and fix it, rather than allowing Second Life day/night cycle. Use World -> Environment Settings and try Sunset for example, rather than the rather harsh Midday.
Austin Tate's picture

Essential Skills - make sure you are prepared (Second Life)

First thing... if you do not yet have an avatar in Second Life, and have not yet entered the environment, please do that now.  See for help.

Teleconferences and on-line meetings are plagued by set up problems for participants. This is most often the case with audio. Even experienced users find that their setups, firewalls and equipment changes and previously well set up systems stop working or give echo, feedback and problems for others. Worse... the participant causing the problem is usually the only one who cannot hear it. To help prepare for an event, and so that time is not wasted by all participants, it is suggested that a few simple checks are done by all participants BEFORE taking their place at the designated meeting space.

In some larger events, or where participants may be from many environments, an "Event Reception" area will be designated, at which all participants will be asked to arrive. A few simple checks may be done there, to warn you of issues so you can help others during the meeting, and only use appropriate communications methods for those facilties you know are working.

A good place to start is the Second Life Quickstart Documentation at Linden Labs community site.

Quick Tests

A note may be made of avatars failing one or more tests to guide the meeting organizers and to allow them to propose remedies, e.g. by pointing back at this web page.

1. Can Sit on Designated Seating:

Make sure you can sit down. Select the surface of a specific seat that you wish to occupy, right Click (PC) or ... (Mac) to get the object pie menu, and select the "Sit" action. Note that if are wearing Animation Overriders (AO) or other scripted objecst that contrio your avatar's position, these may override the position you adopt in the seat. Turn AOs off when stiing in chairs, etc.


PC Users

Mac Users


Sit on Designated Object Right Click on Object and select "Sit" Ctrl+Click on Object and select "Sit" Turn off any Animation Overrider, etc.

2. Can Redirect Camera When Seated:

The camera in the Second Life viewer can be moved independently without moving your avatar. The default camera position is usually slightly behind and above the avatrar looking over the avatars shoulders. You can refocus on any position, and swing the camera across or up and down, and zoom in and out for clearer views of screens, posters, or other avatars. Keyboard keys can be used, or there is a camera control panel that can be shown (via View -> Camera Controls). Note that your avatar's head will move to show the direction you are looking.


PC Users

Mac Users


Focus on Object Alt+left click Cmd+left click Icon is magnifying glass with +
Zoom In/Out Alt+up/down arrow Cmd+up/down arrow Or Alt+rotate mouse wheel
Rotate Camera Left/Right Alt+up/down arrow Cmd+up/down arrow  
Rotate Camera Up/Down Ctrl+Alt+up/down arrow Ctrl+C md+up/down arrow  
Return to Default View ESC ESC  

3. Can Receive Video Streams:

Open the menu item Edit/Preferences at the top of the screen. Open the audio & video tab.

Tick “Play Streaming Music when available…”, “Play Streaming Media when available…” and “Automatically play media…”.

From now on, if you walk into a region where there is music or movie to be played, it will be played automatically for you. If this does not work at times, you can always manually start a movie, using the media bar at the bottom right of your screen. You can also use the same media bar to re-play a movie.

4. Properly Setup for SL Voice:

Unless you are experienced, know the effects of open-to-air microphones, and know that your setup allows for proper sound cancellation (almost all open to air mics do not) do not try to use a separate microphone and speakers, or even separate microphone and headphones. As all sorts of ambient sounds, computer fan noise, your clicks on typing, etc will be very disruptive indeed for the other participants (even though you may not hear them). Use a good headset with close up mic and all should be well.

Check SL Voice settings in Edit -> Preferences -> Voice Chat and enable the voice chat facility if its not already on.

When its on a small white dot apprears over your avatar. If you speak, and your voice levels are set correctly green soud bars will show around this white dot. [Note: If there is no white dot it could indicate that you have either not enabled SL Voice, or the SL Voice services cannot be reached... possibly due to firewall issues.] [Note: you want to achieve the most green bars you can when speaking a little louder than usual... but not see any red bar at all. Then try shouting and it should just go red. If you see red marks near your avatar's white voice dot the your mic is set to too high a level (its "over-attenuated in the jargon"), so you will sound distorted to others]

The default setting is that you must push the "Talk" button (usually near the bottom right of the SL Viewer) to speak. Hold it down while you speak, and make sure you release it when not speaking. Don't lock it except in exceptional circumstances, such as when you are the main speaker in a lecture, and don't check the "Use Push-To-Talk in toggle mode" in the settings, as that may mean you forget to switch off you mic after you havespoken in an event. This is all very important, and failure to do this is the primary cause of communications problems in teleconferences including in Second Life.

If you cannot hear through your headset or see any green marks on your avatar's voice white dot when speaking into your microphone (remember to press the "Talk" button), then your device setup may not be correct. Check or change this via Edit -> Preferences -> Voice Chat -> Device Settings. if necessary select the correct deveice for audio I/O, and you can test the mic levels by speaking and adjusting the slidier bar. Try to achieve a level of about 3 of the 5 available bars when speaking a little louder than user. You do not want to see any red when speaking a little louder than usual, but if you shout it just just go red.

Remedy: Temporary muting of SL voice by other participants for the participant causing feedback or who is over attenuated. Right Click (PC) or ... (Mac) on an avatar to get the avatar Pie menu, and then select "Mute". Near the end of the meeting you might wish to select "Unmute", so that the next time you meet this person they can be heard again. [Note that "Mute" also means you will not see chat or hear IM form the participant involved - to be checked.]

More information on setting up and using SL Voice:

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